Awardee Interviews | Biography: David Ruzic

David Ruzic

David Ruzic, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, “For the invention and commercialization of physical vapor deposition magnetrons and power supplies specifically for high-power impulse magnetron sputtering”
Prof. David Neil Ruzic is the Abel Bliss Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is in the Department of Nuclear, Plasma and Radiological Engineering where he joined the faculty in 1984 after receiving his PhD in Physics from Princeton University and post-doctoral work at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory.  His research has always centered on the interaction of plasmas with materials.  As a graduate student he worked on the PLT tokamak diagnosing the fast-neutral atoms generated at the edge of the plasma and how they interacted with the plasma-facing components.  Once he established a group at Illinois, he saw how the same physics at work sputtering the edge of a fusion device was of great technical interest in the semiconductor processing industry.
This started a 30-year history of understanding and innovation in the field of magnetron sputtering.  In the 1990’s his students and he obtained a commercial scale magnetron and forged an alliance with industry developing diagnostics to determine the ion to neutral atom ratio reaching the substrate, and whether the ions were from the target material or from the processing gas.  In the 2000’s when HIPIMS (High-Power-Impulse-Magnetron-Sputtering) started becoming known, his students and he identified the factors which lead to a higher ionization fraction and showed how to use this to produce superior films.  That lead in the 2010’s to developing magnets specifically for HIPIMS and altering the voltage pulse shape with a positive kick at the end to make an even higher ionization fraction and even better films. 
In addition to the work on magnetron sputtering, Prof. Ruzic is still active in fusion technology, particularly the use of molten lithium and brought a mid-size (70-ton, 2MW) Tokamak/Stellarator hybrid to Illinois.  He is also active in the field of EUV lithography sources, plasma etching, and the use of atmospheric-pressure plasmas for deposition.   He is a Fellow of the American Nuclear Society, a Fellow of the American Vacuum Society, a Fellow of the American Physical Society, and a Fellow of SPIE (Society for Optics and Photonic Engineering).   Professor Ruzic has a passion for teaching, particularly about energy sources where he gets to blow something up in almost every class.   He is on YouTube (Illinois EnergyProf) where his videos have been seen over 2.7 million times and has served at Illinois as an Assistant Dean and as an Associate Vice President.   For the AVS he has been a Division Chair, on several division’s program and executive committees, and served as the Scientific Director of the IUVSTA (the International Union of Vacuum Societies) for 9 years.  He has published over 220 referred journal papers, 2 books, and 6 book chapters and has been awarded 10 patents. He has produced 35 PhD students and 59 thesis MS students who are now working in industry, national laboratories or academia.  He describes his past students as his most important and valuable contribution.